Sexual Titillation

Sex, Shock & Titillation

When sex is repressed, an excessive interest in sex
appears as a compulsive unearthing, an ‘itchiness’
to look underneath or behind for titillation.

Titillation: the arousal of interest or excitement,
especially through sexually suggestive images or words.

this girl's on fire

Kardashian dresses like she’s taking part in
some adult-movie version of Show and Tell,
and stares so intently at the camera, you’d
think it was about to dispense $100 bills.

So far, her main contribution has been a
blouse that allowed Cowell to make a joke
about the air conditioning in the theater
being turned up too high.

If you’re a fan, know that someday your
grandchildren will want to know why you
found her and her family fascinating.

The genre of quick and easy disposable films
produced mainly for sexual titillation should
not be immediately connected with our current
media focus on #metoo and #timesup movements.

We Love Being
‘Shocked’ by Sex

This is more than mere inquisitiveness. The Swiss psychologist CG Jung makes reference to the shadow side of life in the context of repressed material that, once integrated, has the capacity to ground us in life.

Without a proper grounding there is a burning desire to scratch below the surface of things. This urge to explore the rich, invisible, underbelly of life, can manifest in multiple ways.

Cheque-book journalism and the propaganda of the unscrupulous ‘gutter press’ illustrate that impulse to get the ‘low down’ ‘the bottom-line’, to ‘snoop and pry’ and ‘dig up the dirt.’

From the reader’s perspective, there is a fascination in leafing through ‘revealing’ or ‘titillating’ stories in the tabloid press of the rich and famous, to become acquainted with the minutiae of their seemingly illustrious, show-biz lives.

What are we hoping to ‘unearth’ about our own lives? What comparisons, if any, can we draw? Perhaps escaping the reality of our mundane existence is what matters. It is what we invest in the fantasy of others’ lives that prevails.

Although grossly edifying, to middle-class sensibilities these sex stories are an opiate of the masses, a comic book for adults, read only by the less educated.

Far from being serious journalism, the contents merely entertain, to engage our need for voyeuristic pleasure and amusement.

Despite our conscious will, there is a secret wish for intrigue, revelation and drama, an urge to know what the underbelly of life contains. What lies in the murky shadows of other people’s lives? What am I missing?

Why did the local pastor elope with a known prostitute? We hanker after full frontal exposure and revelation. The brash, intrusive, glaring savagery of the piece.

It’s hyper-gossip. We need to know what happened, but tell me just in case. Fill me in. But why? This is mere sensationalism. Like TV soaps, a parody of the way life really is.

How rationally we explain the impulsive desire to read and gloat over the misfortunes and intrigues of others. There is a dark Eros fascination for the unwary reader. We are bound in some hermetic glue.

This ‘gluing’ to the page is ambivalence. We tut-tut, criticise, condemn, stay above the material presented.

The thought police, as collective moral conscience, insist that you should remain distant from it, that it’s ‘unhygienic’.

We’re allowed to look but not to indulge ourselves the seamier side of life, to idealise or compare our lifestyles with the outsiders and transgressors.

Underage Sex:
Why So Controversial?


Early Sex Practice

According to new research, 27% of young women, and 22% of men, had sex before the age of 16. Being a teenager myself, I was not particularly alarmed by the latest Health Survey but others apparently are.

A ‘sex expert’ declares: “The underlying cause must be the ‘pornification’ of the culture and the increasing sexualisation of pre-adolescent girls.”

It is true that underage sexual activity in girls is rising at a higher rate than in boys, but I don’t believe underage sex is an inherent problem.

The age of consent is largely arbitrary. If a girl has safe consensual sex with another girl or boy at 15, both are happy and there are no significant power-imbalances – that’s fine.

In fact, I was surprised the figures were not higher. At my sixth form, most of my peers were sexually active, and many had been before the age of 16. Two or three girls told me they’d lost their virginity at 13.

I don’t think that sex at this age is a wise idea, but I never got any sense of regret or emotional harm from my friends – the age of consent is barely an issue to many teenagers I know.

Among my peers at college, the impression I had was that far more than a quarter had had sex before 16. Teenagers come to their own conclusions as to when they’re ready, and I’m not sure their decision will be better whether they’re 15 or 16.

My concern has always been about how sexually active girls are treated by other young people. Terms such as “slut” and “slag” are thrown around with ease, and this seems far more of a problem than the sex itself.

A number of teenagers I know would consider sex to be only penis-in-vagina intercourse, whereas in my opinion statistics reflecting other potentially risky practices such as oral and anal sex are also important.

Also, there is no information as to whom the respondents were having sex with: a 14-year-old having sex with a 15-year-old is very different from having sex with a 20-year-old.

I’m concerned about pornification, the way in which much mainstream porn presents women.

I’m concerned young women believe there is one right way to look during sex, and about the persistent tendency of mainstream media to present sexual activity between women as titillation for male viewers.

But girls don’t just have sex because they view themselves as “sex objects”. Teenage and even pre-teenage girls have sexual desires of their own.

Sex isn’t necessarily something that is done to girls, because they view themselves as sexual objects; it can be initiated and enjoyed by them. Indeed, the reason underage sex among girls is rising could be due to female sexuality becoming less taboo.

The fact that girls as well as boys enjoy sexual activity is important to emphasise. I’ll never forget overhearing a conversation on a bus where a boy was asking a female friend of mine, both around 18, why girls masturbated. That alone demonstrates to me the need for better education.

Let’s not get too hung up on the exact figures of underage sex. The important thing is that anyone having sex at any age should be making an informed choice, emotionally able to deal with it, protected from pregnancy and STIs, enthusiastically consenting, with no power-imbalances or exploitation, and also having a pleasurable experience.

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